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Centralia R-VI School District focusing on improving special needs education

Posted on Tuesday, August 29, 2023 at 11:51 am

At least 30 people sat in the Centralia Intermediate School gymnatorium the evening of August 18, just a few days before the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

It was a sunny, cool, Tuesday afternoon and they were listening to Stephen Chancellor and Mary Decker discuss the where special needs education in the Centralia R-VI School District had been and where it is going.

It was the district’s first special education action team meeting.

“A decision to do nothing is decision to move backwards, “Chancellor said while

discussing the district’s strategic plan regarding special needs. “If we don’t know what we believe in, we don’t know if what we are doing is good or bad.”

He had told the audience they were there, because they were invited. He said they were invited because they had shown an interest.

“Tonight, you are here because you can tell us the what, what type of outcomes do you want from the special needs program. You tell us he what, we will figure out the how.”

He introduced Decker as the district’s new director of special education. Other members of the team include Brandon Kinkead and Mariah Littrell.

Their mission is meeting students’ individual needs through an evidence-based approach, he said. “We need to figure out the what, we need to figure out the hows.”

The guests, the stakeholders, the parents that comprised the audience were there to guide Chancellor and the special needs trio, he said. “We are trained in the ‘hows,’ but you have to guide is with the ‘whats.’ What do you want us to see, what do you want your kids to experience when they are here? What kind of outcomes do you want for them in special education, experiences you hope they will have… You tell us that and we’ll figure out how to make that happen.”

He told them to not hold back in their discussions and refrain from telling them what they think the team wants to hear. “You are here because of the broad range of experience you have… We are all here because we want the best for our district’s children.”

For the complete article, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.